Recently in Indonesia, a large python attempted to defend itself from a man who tried to catch it and move it off a road. The snake bit the man, which resulted in it being killed by a group of people. The title of the article:
Unfortunately, we have seen many versions of this article pop up on various media sites. It is another example of when a human-snake conflict incident occurs, it results in the snake’s death. Snake stories in the media are popular, but only when snakes are the villain. For example, these are real headlines of articles that reported on a human-snake conflict incident:
Again, these are real headlines.
Do you notice the language? In a human-snake encounter, the media will typically portray the human as the victim in the situation, which fits the narrative for the majority of our society’s relationship with snakes. However, the real story is that human activity displaces and disrupts snake’s natural behavior. Also, when a snake “attacks” someone, the snake is merely defending itself from a potential predator. Media greatly influences human’s perception of snakes and it is almost always negative. This needs to change because human misunderstanding of snakes is a serious barrier that impedes snake conservation efforts. As human intolerance of snakes increases, snake populations will continue to decline. As human development takes over wild places, snakes are learning to adapt in a quickly changing world and inevitably encounter people. Conflict with people is predictable, but the outcome can be completely harmonious for both humans and snakes. As Save The Snakes continues our work to mitigate human-snake conflict, we could use your help with our mission!
When you see an article that negatively depicts snakes, please take a moment to comment and explain to the author how negative language and context can hurt snake conservation efforts. Explain to the author how snakes serve a valuable role in the ecosystem and even help humans by controlling pest populations. Plus, snakes are fascinating animals with complex, interesting behaviors!
With education and awareness, our society has the opportunity to turn a human-snake conflict incident into an amazing, unforgettable human-snake experience.